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Help or Hinder: Bayesian Models of Social Goal Inference
Tomer D Ullman · Chris L Baker · Owen Macindoe · Owain Evans · Noah Goodman · Josh Tenenbaum

Wed Dec 09 07:00 PM -- 11:59 PM (PST) @

Everyday social interactions are heavily influenced by our snap judgments about others goals. Even young infants can infer the goals of intentional agents from observing how they interact with objects and other agents in their environment: e.g., that one agent is helping orhindering anothers attempt to get up a hill or open a box. We propose a model for how people can infer these social goals from actions, based on inverse planning in multiagent Markov decision problems (MDPs). The model infers the goal most likely to be driving an agents behavior by assuming the agent acts approximately rationally given environmental constraints and its model of other agents present. We also present behavioral evidence in support of this model over a simpler, perceptual cue-based alternative.

Author Information

Tomer D Ullman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Chris L Baker (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Owen Macindoe (Masschusetts Intitute of Technology)
Owain Evans (University of Oxford)
Noah Goodman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Josh Tenenbaum (MIT)

Josh Tenenbaum is an Associate Professor of Computational Cognitive Science at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received his PhD from MIT in 1999, and was an Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 1999 to 2002. He studies learning and inference in humans and machines, with the twin goals of understanding human intelligence in computational terms and bringing computers closer to human capacities. He focuses on problems of inductive generalization from limited data -- learning concepts and word meanings, inferring causal relations or goals -- and learning abstract knowledge that supports these inductive leaps in the form of probabilistic generative models or 'intuitive theories'. He has also developed several novel machine learning methods inspired by human learning and perception, most notably Isomap, an approach to unsupervised learning of nonlinear manifolds in high-dimensional data. He has been Associate Editor for the journal Cognitive Science, has been active on program committees for the CogSci and NIPS conferences, and has co-organized a number of workshops, tutorials and summer schools in human and machine learning. Several of his papers have received outstanding paper awards or best student paper awards at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), NIPS, and Cognitive Science conferences. He is the recipient of the New Investigator Award from the Society for Mathematical Psychology (2005), the Early Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists (2007), and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology (in the area of cognition and human learning) from the American Psychological Association (2008).

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